• The Ohio DOTs three-tiered snow and ice performance evaluator combines National Weather Service, pavement condition, and traffic data.

    Credit: ODOT

    The Ohio DOT’s three-tiered snow and ice performance evaluator combines National Weather Service, pavement condition, and traffic data.

Until last year, the Ohio DOT (ODOT) had very little, if any, empirical evidence to prove it was spending its $50 million winter operations budget efficiently. That changed when Assistant Director of Field Operations Mike Flynn issued a challenge.

“One of the five critical success factors by which we judge ourselves is operational effectiveness,” he says. “If you can’t measure it, you can’t tell if you’re being efficient or effective.”

ODOT owns 1,700 plow trucks and uses 300,000 to 900,000 tons of salt stored at 200 locations across the state. The 3,000 employees who work around the clock clearing 43,000 lane miles of snow and ice judged their effectiveness based on route and years of experience. Flynn challenged the Operations Division to work with ODOT’s 12 district offices and 88 county garages, where drivers are assigned, to develop a data-driven performance measurement system.

The result is SNIPE, or snow and ice performance evaluator. The award-winning system combines data from the department’s road weather information system (RWIS), National Weather Service, and a private contractor to deploy plows and chemicals where they’re needed before a storm hits.

Next page: Three-tier system